Essay by givemeboostHigh School, 12th gradeA, July 2005

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In comparing your TWO texts you will have become aware of how the contexts of the texts have shaped their form and meaning. Of more interest, perhaps, is a comparison of the values associated with each text. To what extent has this point of view been your experience in your study of Transformation?

The canonical Shakespearean play Hamlet and the 1967 transformation play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Stoppard are didactic examples of how context have shaped form and meaning. However, a changed context has ushered in a different set of values. By comparing the values of each text, responders learn that the inspiration of the known reflects upon the new, while the new resonates with the known.

Shakespeare's play is a serious work with comic moments. Stoppard's transformation is a comic work with serious moments. Hamlet is a revenge tragedy which contains the death of many characters: Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Gertrude, Claudius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Hamlet himself.

This revenge tragedy is a genre which follows the conventional five-act structure: exposition, anticipation, confrontation, delay and completion and this is a direct reflection of the Elizabethan period where there were a definite structure in society known as the Chain of Beings, with God at the apex and base matter at the lowest level. To kill a king was thus attacking an ordained hierarchy and the context has shaped meaning with this disruption of order seen trough the extended metaphor of "the unweeded garden in two months dead" polluted by regicide, fratricide, adultery and incest.

So Hamlet comes to represents the dichotomy of Christian values and Renaissance need for order when he struggles to follow the medieval doctrines demand for a son to absolve a father's murder. Appropriating Thomas Kyd's 1587 Ur-Hamlet, Hamlet is a "noble heart" who, according to A.C.